Disclaimers: The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess and all other associated with the television series of the same name are owned by MCA/ Universal Pictures. This is a work of fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Subtext: I guess with my writing so far we'll just quit calling it subtext and call it maintext. Yes they are in love with each other.
Other: Part Ninety-nine in the series "Raising Melosa". Takes place about six months after "Reflections".
As One Journey Ends
I watch, as Mel and Xe ride ahead of the caravan. They do make a good team and I am glad that Mel has decided not to leave home for the time being. With Kai and Bailus both off at their academies, Xe has become quite the bear over the last few weeks and I am grateful to have Mel around to distract her. Being without our children is not good for my warrior.
Now, were traveling to the southern tribes for fall festival. Well spend winter festival and solstice with our own tribe, but weve decided to travel to the other regions for their seasonal festivals. Actually, Im looking forward to it. I know itll be good for Xe to compete with warriors who are not accustomed to fighting her and it gives Kes and Rosa the chance to take some responsibility and get to know the members of the nation they will rule.
I glance back at the girls, who are quietly discussing one of the philosophy scrolls I gave them when we left our village a few days ago. I am so proud of them. They have already taken huge strides in our own village as leaders of the nation.
They have created a council of their peers who work with them like my council works with me. They meet and discuss issues that I fill them in on from my sessions with my council and issues that are relevant to the younger members of our nation. They then attend at least one session a week with me, in front of the senior council and fill them in as well. It has really opened an amazing line of communication between the elder and the younger members of the tribe.
I have noticed of the two, Kes is the more reserved, tends to be very quiet and conservative in her opinions, until she disagrees with Rosa, then stand back. They have been known to have arguments that have lasted for weeks, but never in front of either council or in front of the tribe. When they are in public, even during an argument you would be hard pressed to notice anything is wrong. Its being at home with them, that gets dangerous. But they have never failed to settle a dispute among themselves that is equitable to the both of them. I have great faith in their ability to lead the nation when their time comes.
Xe holds up her hand bringing the caravan to a halt. She points silently, Mel nods and flanks left, riding up a small hill. Immediately the wagon is surrounding by guards. The remaining guards move forward and get quiet orders issued from Xe as she flanks right and rides into the tree line.
The remaining guards return to the wagon and lead it from the road to the tree line. I find my staff in the back of the wagon and follow Xe into the trees. She is dismounting and sending her horse off when I catch up to her. I crouch down next to her and grin as she looks to me.
"What are you doing here?"
"Getting ready to go play with you. I left the guards with the girls."
"Oh please dont. Itll just waste valuable time. What are we listening for anyhow?" Just as she was about to answer I heard the clanging of swords ahead of us. "Never mind. I got it."
"Good, lets go."
I follow her into the trees as we move toward the sounds of the skirmish. Xe looks over and obviously makes contact with Mel across the road. With a hand signal we move forward.
Finding a half dozen young amazons surrounded by two dozen men, my warrior and my daughter are in their element now. Xe gives a whistle, which calls forth about a dozen of our guards. As they approach on horseback we enter into the fight. Xe, grins at me as she draws her swords. I just shake my head and land my staff along the first head I can find that doesnt belong to my own people or my family.
It has certainly been a long time, a very long time. Im going to have muscles aching that I had forgotten about.
Riding into the larger group, our guards manage to break the cluster in half and grab several of the girls, riding off into the safety of the woods. One of the girls remains behind with us and stays in the fight until most of the men are down or prudently headed the other direction. I have just enough time to notice that she is covering Mels back and does so just in time to deflect a sword blow that certainly would have injured Mel seriously.
As I take down another man I hear a familiar roar that tells me Xe is growing tired of playing. It s time to get down to business. It is only a matter of moments before we find our task complete and take the time to catch our breath.
"You okay love?" Xe wraps her arm round my shoulders as I bend at the waist to catch my breath.
"Oh yeah, Im good." I nod, I straightening up. "But you owe me."
"Hey youre the one who decided to tag along." She laughs as we move toward Mel and the girl.
"Some things never change."
Mel is replacing her staff. She turns to the young woman. "You okay?"
"Great, thanks." She replies, sheathing her own sword, then a smaller blade used for parrying. "And you would be?"
"The person who just saved your backside." Mel teases as she pulls off her gloves. "Melosa, my friends call me Mel." She offers her arm.
"Not too many people address you as Mel do they? My names Brianna and thanks for the assist." She takes Mels arm in her own. "We were a little out numbered."
"You," Mel straightens up and looks down at the young woman as Xe and I stand back and wait to be brought into the conversation. "Were waaaay out numbered."
"Now wait just a moment ."
"Okay you two!" Xe calls, moving us forward.
The young woman drops to one knee immediately upon seeing us. "Your Majesty, Your Highness. I am sorry I didnt see you, I was a little distracted by this centaurs ass." She jerks her thumb at Mel.
"Im the centaurs asses Mother." Xe offers with a grin, she extends her hand to help the young woman up. "Thats Princess Melosa."
"Oh sweet Artemis." She groans as she gets to her feet and looks back at Mel, who just smirks. She turns back to us and offers up her blade to me. "Im sorry Your Majesty. Ill accept whatever punishment you see fit to bestow."
"I think you have already redeemed yourself in my eyes Brianna, put your sword away. What are you doing out here?"
"I was taking the younger girls hunting for small game for the festival. Im not sure where those men came from or how they got on our land."
"Hmm," Xe grumbles a little as she examines the ground and a few of the bodies around us. "Theyre bounty hunters or slavers." She pulls a small pair of chains from one of the dead men. "They were looking to make a quick capture and a few quick dinars."
Xe tosses the chains to Mel, who examines them and nods. "Made for children, not adults."
"Right. Young slaves are easier to break and train. Young amazons dont tend to die in captivity."
"Well thank Artemis everyone is all right. Lets get back to the wagon and check the girls." I take Xes hand and we walk back toward the wagon.
"I uh well I guess I owe you an apology Your Highness." Brianna offers with a sheepish little grin as they walk with us.
Mel whistles for her horse. Then she puts her gloves back on. "First off, stop calling me Your Highness and apology accepted."
"Yes Mother." She quirks a brow at Xe as she takes her horses reins in her hands when it trots up next to her.
"Now you can apologize to Brianna."
"You were being a centaurs ass. Now apologize." I smile up at Xe who smirks a bit when Mel offers up a half hearted Im sorry. "Now I think just to prove that we didnt raise a complete barbarian you should offer her a ride back to their village."
"I I " Mel glares at Xe, who glares right back. "Yes Maam." Mels defeat is clear in her voice. She mounts her horse then offers her arm to the young woman. "Can I give you a lift?"
"Thanks." She smiles and allows herself to be pulled up behind Mel.
We watch as they ride away toward the grove. "Did you see it?" I ask, giving Xes hand a tug.
"Un-huh I sure did."
"Very big sparks."
Xe nods, putting her arm around my waist. "She could be the one."
"Looks like it and feels like it."
"Think Mel knows?"
"No, shes way to busy being mad at the moment."
I laugh a little as I think of their first exchange.
Xe grins down at me. "Does Brianna remind you of someone?"
"No, should she?"
"Not necessarily. Sometimes you dont see your own reflection that clearly."
"Oh Xe please! Shes nothing like me."
"Other than short, blonde and feisty? Nope not a thing." She laughs as she stops us and turns to me. "I had a feeling it was gonna happen this way. Theres something about short blondes we cant resist."
"Then why do you pick ones that fights back?"
"We love a challenge." She offers with a grin and a kiss. "Keeps us young and on our toes."
"Funny I prefer you ."
"What? What did I say?"
"Nothing, but I could hear it coming."
I stifle another comment and snort in my attempt, which gets me a firm swat to my backside. "Hey!"
"I warned you."
I watch Mel and Brianna as we resume our walk back. "Yeah, okay, I see a certain resemblance, but I havent worn my hair short like that since India."
"You just wait. Youll see what I mean."
"Right." I just nod. I still think shes nuts, but Ive been married to her for far too long to argue with her over it. Itd be pointless. Wed argue for mark after mark and never get anywhere. We have very circular arguments these days.
"Is everyone okay?" Taking the time to check all the girls, they all answer that they are indeed fine as we start loading them into the wagon.
Xe issues orders to the guards, sending a few of them ahead if us to keep the road clear.
"So," Mel glances over at Brianna. "You wanna ride with me, or in the wagon with the kiddies?" She crosses her arms and leans against the wagon.
"Watch it Ego, or Ill just kick or butt and take your horse." Brianna gives Mel a poke in the chest as she delivers her threat.
Its all I can do to keep from laughing. Xe doesnt fair as well and I have to give her a little nudge in the ribs, she looks at me and lifts her brows. "Be nice." I whisper as she helps me back up into the wagon.
"I am being nice." She grins at me then pulls me down for a kiss. "Love you Bard."
I smile at the kiss and the endearment. She still surprises me when she decides to be spontaneous with her affection. "Love you too Warrior."
"Glad to hear it. I think Ill keep ya." She smiles and caresses my cheek.
"I thought so." She gives me a wink and whistles for her own horse. She turns and grins at me as she mounts her horse. "You wanna ride with me or ."
"Dont even say it."
"Hey, it worked for her." Xe gestures to Mel and Brianna, who are now riding ahead of the caravan. "Thought maybe it might work for me too. Nothing like having a beautiful woman wrapped around you when youre riding."
It was the wiggling of her eyebrows that made me stand up and join her on her horse. I cant resist her when she does that and she knows it. I settle behind her and wrap my arms around her waist.
"Ah now life is truly good." Xe laughs as we head back to the main road. " A strong horse and a fast woman. What more does one need?"
"Hey!" I give her a slap to the shoulder, which only causes her to laugh harder. "Oh you are so gonna pay for that."
"I hope so."
The caravan moves back to the road and our journey begins again. I lay my head on Xes back as I take a great deal of comfort in the scent of leather and the motion of the horse beneath us.
There are times when I miss being on the road. I love my family and all that my Warrior and I have done together, but once in awhile I wonder what it would still be like for us if we had stayed on the road.
Who am I trying to kid? We would probably be dead.
I take a deep, satisfied breath of the crisp, clean air and let everything that we have, settle around me like a comforting blanket. We have raised the most beautiful children and I have been married to the most beautiful woman in the world for nearly twenty seasons.
I have led a good life.
I sigh contentedly as I settle closer to Xe and she strokes my arms. "What are you thinking about?"
"Nothing." I smile, settling my head and close my eyes.
"Ri honey, wake up." I feel her tap my arm.
"Hmm? Give me one good reason why I should." I mumble as I readjust against her.
"Because were about to arrive in the village and I dont think your people should see you drooling down my back in your sleep." She chuckles a bit, slowing her horse.
"I hate you."
"Un-huh." The laughs again as we enter the village.
Regent Leland meets us. She smiles and offers us both greetings, "Your Majesty it is always a pleasure. Xena you are looking good."
"Thank you Leland. Where can I have our guards set up our camp?"
"Anywhere you like Xena. Please feel free to choose a spot that suits your needs."
"Ri Ill take care of camp. Why dont you fill your regent in on our little encounter on the way in."
"There was a problem?"
"Just a little one." I offer as I turn Leland for her council hall. "But one you should be aware of."
Riding through to the other side of the village into the more open fields to the east I order our camp set up, which our guards do without question or hesitation. As I ride around the area that will become our encampment I notice one missing element. I deep breath and then a shrill whistle and then I wait and watch. I heard the pounding of hooves and turn to find Mel riding at me at full speed.
"Im sorry!" She yells, reining her horse, stopping next to me. "But little miss attitude wanted to be taken to her hut."
I quirk a brow and I just readjust in my saddle giving her my most disinterested look. To her hut huh? Showing my daughter where she lives? Hmmm.
"Hey it was your idea for me to give her a ride!" She defends as she dismounts her horse and pulls off her gloves.
"Aww quit complaining." I grin down at her. "And get to work."
"And youll be ."
"Up here supervising." I wink as I turn my horse and begin a slow ride around our encampment.
"Oh thatll be a big help, thanks so much!" She calls to me as I ride away. I smile, knowing my eldest daughter is teasing me. She goes to work immediately helping with the set up of the camp.
Actually at this point, Mel is doing most of the commanding of the guards and the supervising. I just sit here on my horse and try to look impressive.
"Showing off again oh mighty Consort?"
I look over to find Ri approaching. She stops a short distance away and grins up at me. "Oh absolutely. How am I doing?" I sit, tall and straight in the saddle, giving her profile.
She gives her hand a little sideways shake. "Eh, on a scale of one to ten Ill give it a four."
"A four!" I growl as I turn my horse and ride over to her. I lean down and meet her nose to nose. "A lousy four?"
"Yeah. Your boots need polishing and theres drool on the back of your leathers."
"Wonder why." I slide off my horse and wrap my arms around her. "Youre mean so to me."
"You love it."
"Yeah, sick isnt it?"
She draws a deep breath, stepping into me and wrapping her arms around me. "Nah. Its just the way its always been and the way it always will be."
"And I wouldnt change a thing."
"Glad to hear it."
"Besides, I wouldnt get much out of you for trade now anyhow." I chuckle as I feel her slap my arm.
"Har, har. You are so full of it."
"Im full of a lot of things ." I let the comment linger a bit and she looks up at me.
"Ooooo that look is so dangerous."
"Makes me want to drag you into the woods and do things that will scare the birds."
"Well see that was the idea." I offer with a shrug.
"Good idea." She gives my hand a tug. "Lets go."
I just shake my head as I watch them go. Married nearly twenty seasons now and they still play. It amazes me, it really does. They seem to love each other more everyday. I am so very lucky to have them as parents.
I was given the best education possible by both of them. Mom trained my mind while Mother trained my body. I know there are lots of things I have yet to face in this world, but Im prepared to meet most anything head on thanks to them. Ive been truly blessed.
I cant help but cringe when I hear her yell at me. I turn slowly to see Brianna crossing the field, into our camp. "Yeah whaddya need? Im a little busy here." I offer gesturing to the camp."
"Oh yeah, I can see that. You stand in the middle of everything really well."
"I just got here," I growl leaning in to glare at her. "Because someone, and Im not naming names, needed a ride to her hut!"
She just shakes her head a bit and grins at me. "Yeah right. Like that little detour held up your ability to stand here and give orders and watch everyone else work."
"I dont just ." I stop when I realize I dont need to explain this or argue with her. "What do you want?"
"Actually, I came over to see if I could lend a hand. I can stand around and supervise your supervising."
"Youre pushing your luck, you know that?"
"I generally do. Its one of my many charms."
"Oh is that what you call it?"
"Sure. What would you call it."
"Pushing you luck." I offer as I cross my arms against my chest. "I told you that once."
"Well," She tosses her hands up. "My offer still stands. I came over to see if I could lend a hand."
"You ever set up a traveling camp before?"
I try to mask the grin that breaks across my face. "Oh then by all means. Lets get to work."
Two marks later I look over again. Shes holding up pretty well and weve managed to help get four tents up, but shes getting tired. I decide to offer her a little reprieve. "Hungry?"
"Okay lets go grab a bite to eat before we corral the horses."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"You can ask me another one." I smirk, dropping the mallet I had been using to drive stakes.
"Why dont you just put your horses in our stables?"
"Because," I run my hand over the back of my neck as I give serious consideration to getting a hair cut. Mom would never forgive me. Thats the only reason I havent done it. "This is the Queens camp and its a matter of security."
"You cant think someone here would try to hurt the Queen."
"My Mom has had more threats from within the nation than from the outside."
"I didnt know that."
"Umm-hmm thats the reason Mother demands we travel with our own gear and set up our own camp. We become a little village all of our own when were done. We have our own food tent, supplies, everything we need is right here."
"Very interesting. Do you travel with your own healer too."
"My Mother does that now." I offer softly.
"Did I say something wrong?"
"No. I, ah used to see the woman that served as my Moms healer."
"Bad break up?"
I draw a deep breath and smile as best I can. "Yeah, me too. I loved her a lot, but Celia was the kind of woman who would have wanted me to get on with my life. So thats what Im doing."
"Thats always a good choice." She gives me a little smile.
"So my Mother pointed out to me after a training run one morning." I laugh a little as we walk toward the food tent.
I pull back the flap for her and allow her to enter first. After we get our food, we head back outside and settle down under a tree to eat.
"So youre the oldest huh?" She asks as she begins eating.
"No. Technically my brother Solan is the oldest. Im the oldest girl."
"Ah heir to the throne."
"Nope. Gave it up to be a warrior. My sisters are the rightful heirs now. What about you? Any bothers or sisters?"
"Nope, only child. My mother is the philosophy teacher and her bondmate is an archer."
"Ah well, sometimes I wish I were and only child too, but I have three brothers and two sisters."
"Wow! I take it that the Queens consort is your birth mother? You look exactly like her."
I nearly choke on my tea as I laugh at the question. "You mean you dont know?"
"Hmm well, I guess its been long enough now the circumstance behind my birth are old news."
"Huh? You lost me."
"The Queen is my birth mother. Her Consort is my, uh, well father if you will."
"Okay amazons are capable of just about anything, but we arent even that good."
I laugh hard, nodding my agreement to the comment. "Well, normally we dont have Artemis help either. I was a gift from Artemis to my mothers. She took a little bit of Mother and nine months later, and to hear them tell it, after eighteen marks of labor ."
She laughs and nods with me. "Oh the labor stories must be a mother thing. My mother says it was twelve marks. The only thing the stories have done for me is make me decide Im not having children anytime soon."
"Now thats the first sensible thing youve said all day."
"Hmm?" Im watching the festivities when Xe tugs my hand then points across the village to Mel and Brianna. "They have gotten quite chummy in the last few days havent they?"
"Oh yeah." Xe nods, sipping her tea. "I think our eldest will be making a few trips back and forth to see this one."
"Maybe," I lean over and whisper my next words, "shell just decide to stay here."
"Dont even joke about it."
"Its going to happen someday Xe. We cant hold her forever."
"Sure I can. All I need is a good strong pair of chains."
She sighs hard then nods. "I know. First the boys, now Mel, then the girls."
I lean over and give her ear a little nibble. "We could have another baby. Youve been restored and you know I can do it now."
"No. That wouldnt be right and you know it."
"Im just trying to be helpful."
"I know, but I dont think another baby is the answer. Do you, really?"
"You know me sweetheart. Love being pregnant. Love having babies around. You just say the word and were changing diapers again."
"Ill keep that in mind."
"You do that." I give her hand a pat, then interlace her fingers with my own.
"Maybe Ill offer Brianna a place with the Royal Guard."
"Ooooo thats sneaky. Bring her to Mel, that way Mel wont have to come to her."
"Shes a skilled fighter Ri. You saw her fighting those men today. She was doing amazing well."
"Un-huh you just keep telling yourself thats the reason why youre doing it."
"I will, thanks." She leans over, kissing me quite soundly as the festival continues around us.
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